EASTERN PACIFIC (At Sea) (NNS) -- USS Gary (FFG 51), her embarked Helicopter Squadron (HSL 49 Det. 4) and embarked U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment intercepted over 143 kilograms of cocaine Feb. 10 after intercepting a suspected narcotic-trafficking vessel in international waters off the coast of Central America.
The ship was on routine patrol in the Eastern Pacific Ocean while conducting flight operations with one of her SH-60B helicopters. During the patrol, a bridge watch stander noticed a small vessel on the horizon that appeared to be maneuvering at high speed. Gary alerted her SH-60B helicopter which hovered over the contact and identified it as a vessel suspected of smuggling narcotics.
Gary's Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Steven McDowell, stated, "The crew continues to demonstrate their commitment and dedication to the mission here in 4th Fleet. A suspect vessel can be detected at anytime, day or night. Team Gary is always ready."
This marks Gary's eighth successful interception in recent months, disrupting an approximated total of 5,704 kilograms of cocaine shipments off the coast of Central America.
Gary increased speed and quickly covered the distance between her and the suspect vessel. Upon reaching the vessel, Gary launched her small boat with joint LEDET and Navy boat crew with the ship's SH-60B helicopter monitoring the vessel overhead as the small boat approached.
Gary's boarding team discovered three personnel on board. A subsequent boarding and search of the vessel yielded 143 kilograms of cocaine stored in hidden compartments on board the vessel.
The Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided-missile frigate USS Gary is currently deployed to the 4th Fleet area of operations in support of Operation Martillo, which began in January 2012.
Operation Martillo, a joint, international law enforcement and military operation involving the U.S., European and Western Hemisphere partner nations, targets illicit trafficking routes in the waters off Central America.
Overall coordination of counter-drug patrols and surveillance in the Eastern Pacific is done by a joint interagency task force headquartered in Key West, Fla. U.S. maritime law enforcement and the interdiction phase of operations in the region occur under the tactical control of the 11th Coast Guard District headquartered in Alameda, Calif.
U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet support USSOUTHCOM's joint and combined military operations by employing maritime forces in cooperative maritime security operations to maintain access, enhance interoperability and build enduring partnerships in order to enhance regional security and promote peace, stability and prosperity in the Caribbean, Central and South American regions.
For more news from U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command & U.S. 4th Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/cusns/.